Investors have been hoarding cash at a rate not seen since the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks of 2001, BofA's April fund manager survey showed, as the coronavirus roiled global financial markets.
With coronavirus cases fast approaching the 2 million mark globally, and many countries extending lockdown periods to contain the spread of the disease, investors have been wary of holding risky assets.
Funds' allocation to cash jumped to 5.9% from 5.1%, according to the results of the monthly survey of almost 200 global fund managers by BofA, suggesting a dash for cash amid recession expectations.
The sharp deterioration in stock markets and economic forecasts have led 52% of the investors surveyed to believe the recovery would be U-shaped. Only 15% were expecting a V-shaped recovery, with the rest seeing it W-shaped.
A V-shaped recovery is when a plunge in growth is followed by an equally sharp recovery; U-shaped is when recovery takes more than a couple of quarters; and W-shaped refers to a double-dip in growth.
Allocation to global equities slumped 29 percentage points to 27% month-on-month, to the lowest since March 2009, the bottom of the global financial crisis, the survey conducted between April 1 and April 7 showed.
BofA's "Bull & Bear Indicator", a sentiment index, has collapsed to 0.0 from 1.7 in March, generating a contrarian "buy signal" for risk assets, the U.S. bank said.
It also added that April would see the peak of investor pessimism.
Other findings from the survey include, U.S. Treasuries were the "most crowded" trade for the second straight month, while a "second wave" of coronavirus infections was seen as the biggest risk to markets.
A "systemic credit event" - corporate credit defaults - was seen as the second-biggest risk.